There’s a scene in Chad Hartigan’s Morris from America where its title character Morris (Markees Christmas) asks his German tutor (Carla Juri) if she can teach him to be charming. That’s an ironic moment for the audience who fully understands just how damn charming the film is.
Morris from America, a dramedy about a single father, Curtis (Craig Robinson), and his son Morris adjusting to their new life in Germany having moved from America, is a gratifying watch for movie goers wanting a light, heartfelt film and for cinephiles who have been vying for a refreshing coming-of-age story.
General audiences will notice the absence of a concrete plot, but will enjoy riding with the movie’s likeable characters. Newcomer Christmas brings charisma that he successfully channels into Morris’ innocence, and Robinson has a warm presence as a grieving father figuring out how to move on. Morris and Curtis have singular scenes that are, by far, the most memorable moments in the movie. Morris grapples with a crush Katrin (Lina Keller), and Curtis disinterestedly phones a sex hotline while looking at a pivotal photo on his fridge.
Then, the cinephiles. Whenever Morris and Katrin are together, writer/director Chad Hartigan uses the aesthetics of an American coming-of-age story and merges the details into the structure of classic European New Wave. There are a few direct nods to the homage through transitions, but Morris from America uses the genre hybrid to intersect two worlds; taking the adjustments the characters are feeling to another level for the audience.
Morris from America is a satisfying cross-genre crowd-pleaser with one of the hottest soundtracks you’ll hear this year.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie